In these days of increasing global unrest we find our hearts going out to all those around the world who are caught up in the mass of protests which call for change. A new wave of heart-fuelled crusades are led by a new type of activist, compassionate actionists, who stand together strong and undeterred as they protest for basic human rights and the rights of all living and non-sentient life forms.
These new paradigm protesters are calling for change - for themselves, their families, communities, countries and for the world. They send a sounding call for humanity and the Earth, both of which are impacted by dysfunctional, repressive and destructive systems governed by an uninformed and unconscious grand system of global authority. These articulate voices are stating loud and clear “Enough”. The motive behind the actions of these “new paradigm crusaders” is humanitarian/ecotarian and springs out of an extraordinary well of compassion within them.
As new paradigm crusaders we also serve as nonviolent role models who others can look to, trust and believe in. These are the new peace warriors and they speak the language of the people. They have the ability to effect change through nonviolent means and can elicit responses that bring about real hope and potential for positive transformation.
At the core of the shadow wound of humanity are deeply repressed, unexpressed, old emotions, which until healed and transcended, remain embedded within the human genetic blueprint. Such emotions hide behind the veils of consumerism, politics and addiction. This repressed collective emotional charge can be dangerous and destructive, and needs a healthy outlet for release that will lead to a constructive and harmonious outcome.
The times we live in call for compassionate action - acting with compassion - feeling compassion - and to be present in and as compassion, to those who need to feel they are seen, heard, acknowledged and validated.
Throughout history, humanity has strived to live in peace, harmony, equality and freedom, yet, so far, all attempts to this end have failed. It has instead been caught in a web of reaction (instead of response) and, because of this, has remained trapped within a complex system of duality.
Yet, now is the time to appeal to the heart of global authority by co-creating with and aligning to a model of action that promotes unity and harmony through non-violence, non-participation and through peaceful protest. Gandhi stated - Nonviolence which is the quality of the heart cannot come by an appeal to the brain.
Sometimes we have to lose a battle to win a war. In our modern global society the battle that needs to be lost is the desire for revenge or ‘power over’ - and the war to be won is one which upholds equality, harmony and unity achieved through a compassionate heart, an awakened mind, and is aligned with the ethics of nonviolence. Gandhi also shared that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won.
At the very core of the human heart lies an innate capacity for deep reflection, contemplation, perception and unconditional love. These qualities can inform and transform our Consciousness, our lives, our experiences, and our outlook on life. A vision of a world cultivated through the heart leads to a new level of understanding and ultimately a manifestation of that vision as a physical reality.
True compassion is entirely devoid of judgement. Its acute awareness and understanding of suffering is what most deeply informs it. Compassionate action is underpinned by an absolutely unconditional attitude. It neither names, blames, shames or polarises. It acts from a pure motivated heart and unconditionally extends its hand to all, for all are loved and cared for be they ‘victim’ or ‘perpetrator’. It perceives the ‘why’ and ‘what’ that are always to be found behind the dysfunctional behavior of another and so prioritises a response to this, as much as to the inappropriate conduct itself. Compassion seeks to understand ‘why’ something occurred, not just ‘what’ took place.
There are many resources available that speak of, promote and teach us how to engage in compassionate action. Some examples of great compassionate actionists are Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thich Nhat Hanh. Other inspirations include 'The Truth and Reconciliation Commission' and its ethos that is founded upon the visionary principles of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. The introduction into the mainstream of non-violent communication via Marshall Rosenberg, and the teachings of Buddhism, which fundamentally extol the virtues of compassion, are other examples. More recently, the speech by Bishop Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle brought the subject of love and compassion to the forefront of an audience of over two billion as he addressed what he considers to be the priorities now for humanity: When love is the way, we know that we are brothers and sisters. When love is the way, my brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.
Compassionate action requires an unconditional heart and an unshakeable commitment to nonviolence.
Our capacity for compassionate action is found in our ability to deeply understand suffering and respond unconditionally to it, whether it is the suffering of the victim or ‘abuser’.
Compassionate action asks us to be empathic and to feel. Empathy allows us to sense the difficult emotions of another as if they were our own and put ourselves in the other's shoes: We imagine what it might feel like to experience what they are attempting to convey to us. When one shares sadness, we can relate to a time when we felt sad. When another expresses anger, we might also recall how it feels to be angry. We can empathise. If we can always respond to others with empathy and compassion then the potential for a deeper and richer connection and for unity between all peoples, nations and the world becomes a very real potential. Our own experiences, filtered through a pure and open heart, allow us to respond in a way and/or take action that seeks to heal and resolve.
Mahayana Buddhism teaches:
- Boundless loving kindness
- Boundless compassion for all beings
- Boundless joy (in the happiness of others)
- Boundless equanimity—the desire to help all beings regardless of size or status
Commitment to Nonviolence
Compassionate action is described by Gandhi as follows:
- Compassionate action is not about defeating an “opponent”; it is more about winning them over, exposing them to the real truth inherent within any given situation. It reveals to them the injustice that they are involved in so that they can move forward to some degree of compromise, which creates liberation for both the “opposition” and the “compassionate actionist.”
- Both parties can pull away from their dispute with dignity because the perpetuation of force and wrongdoing by the oppressor have been effectively neutralized through the peaceful and ethically based responses of the compassionate actionist.
- No amount of contemplation and deliberation, discussion and consultation, investigation and study, is of any real value unless it is supported by compassionate action.
To establish a harmonious world, to prioritise and cultivate compassion within ourselves first of all, is key. When centred in unconditional compassion for all beings, we can co-create a more compassionate and peaceful world - and it starts with each one of us. Where there is compassion there is healing. And, where there is healing there is peace. In the realisation that it is only through deep listening, deep understanding, deep empathy, and deep compassion, that tension and conflict can be dissolved and resolved, we also come to understand just what it is that each of us needs to do to help co-create a peaceful world. This is when we are living our why we are really here, and this will be our legacy.
One who embodies compassion and who responds to life’s trials and tribulations by remaining steadfast as a role model for compassion in action, is one who is truly walking the walk, and not just talking the talk, of inner and world peace.
Compassion, empathy, understanding, unconditional love, and unconditional positive regard are the qualities to refine if we are ever to establish a world that is founded in love and not fear.
Embrace all living beings in compassion. Serve all of life through compassionate action.